There are creative ways to successfully merge the ELA curriculum with the study of economic inequality. It is of note that there is currently no alignment between ELA and Economic Education standards. Therefore, unit objectives are primarily guided by ELA Common Core Standards, but also recognizes a key National Content Standard in Economics (NCSE). Combining the two is a challenge of unit design, but I believe objectives should be anchored by the standards that serves as a guidepost. NCSE Standard 1 recognizes that tension between economic growth and stagnation occurs when: 1. productive resources are limited, and 2. people cannot have all the goods and service they want; as a result, they must choose some things and give up others. This standard speaks directly to The Great Gatsby Curve, which I intend to use as an entry point to build student understandings.
It also flows into ELA objectives where students will: 1. analyze how economic inequality and mobility interact to affect a characters’ development, and 2. use their critical and extended thinking about the relationship between economic inequality and social mobility to take an argumentative stance through a written short essay. Both ELA and NCSE objectives are intended to have a synergetic effect on student learning and are to occur in tandem with our reading of The Outsiders. Objectives R1-2 and W1 are critical in helping student mastery of unit goals. R1-2 grounds student understanding in theory and moves into them developing exemplars of their learning. W1 provides opportunities for students to defend their conclusions.
Objective R1: Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text. The first objective will be address during our connections made to The Cost of Inequality in chapter three, Economic Inequality and The American Dream Under Siege. This chapter succinctly explains in graph form the economy's vicious cycle. This links back to the NCSE standard about limited resources and graphically illustrates the enduring effects of The Great Gatsby Curve. Students will integrate their understandings of the curve with their character analysis.
Objective R.2: Determine two or more central ideas in a text and analyze their development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text. This objective will be addressed during our reading of chapter four, Inequality of Opportunity in Economic Inequality and The American Dream Under Siege. This chapter distinguishes absolute upward mobility and relative mobility which is key in helping students fine-tune their understandings of what economic mobility is and how issues of inequality impacts the “upward or downward movement of within or in between economic groups.”
Students will use their understandings to write a collection of brief summaries as they connect to their character analysis that they will refer to as they read.
Objective W1: Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence. This objective will be addressed when students prepare to write a short essay integrating their character analysis. Students will accomplish this objective using argumentative writing strategies including their understandings of studied theories and text evidence discerning a character’s economic mobility as it relates to issues of inequity.